Anti-Austerity protesters hold ‘die-in’ outside parliament in London
LONDON – Britain’s protest group the People’s Assembly Against Austerity held a ‘die-in’ on Wednesday outside parliament, as part of a demonstration against Chancellor George Osborne’s emergency budget and to show solidarity with Greece’s rejection of austerity measures.
Hundreds of people took part in the protest just hours after the Osborne unveiled the first Conservative budget in two decades, vowing to cut welfare spending further, lowering taxes and reduce corporation taxes.
John Rees of The People’s Assembly Against Austerity said that protesters released black balloons and staged a ‘die-in’ to symbolise human costs of Osborne’s welfare cuts.
“What we have done, is to release black balloons and have a die-in to symbolise those people, who we know have died directly as a consequence of austerity. The last estimates of this, which was two years ago, were that ten thousand people in this country have died from the direct effects of austerity,” Rees said.
Maggie Zolobajluk created an online petition which has garnered over 200,000 signatures to challenge the government to publish figures on the number of people who have died because of cuts to welfare.
”Some MPs are saying that they do not see the connection between the stopping of benefits and people dying. But, there seems to be a cause. There are lots of people who have committed suicide. I’ve met a couple of people whose brothers, daughters have died while they’d been on sanctions,” she said.
The protest was dubbed ‘Oxi to Osborne’ by its organisers in a reference to the Greek referendum against austerity, where people voted ‘Oxi’ (No) to further IMF and Eurozone-imposed measures.
Protesters danced to Greek music, waved flags and banners and chanted in support of the Greek people’s decision.
Natalie Bennett, whose Green Party stood on a platform against austerity during the recent general election campaign, said that there was now a growing force against austerity across Europe.
”'(We) celebrate the bravery of Greek people who went against enormous pressure to say we cannot take this austerity anymore, we cannot take it in human terms,” said the Green party leader.
“We know austerity doesn’t work,” she added.
Some scuffles broke out between protesters and police after a group of officers confiscated a loudspeaker.
Protesters responded by blocking the road outside of the Treasury and shouting anti-conservative slogans, many of which were directed at the chancellor.
Eventually protesters crossed parliament square to completely block off the road surrounding Westminster, holding a sit-in on the road and drawing outlines around their bodies, as a mark of solidarity to those suffering from welfare reforms.
The demonstration comes at a time when transport workers across London decided to hold industrial action on the capital’s trains. It is expected to grind London’s Underground network to a halt from Wednesday evening, throughout all of Thursday (July 9). –Reuters